"Actually, the guy's kinda got a point. I mean, I wonder all the time why no-one's never just stood up and become a real superhero."
Before getting excited about James Gunn's upcoming superhero film, Guardians of the Galaxy, I decided to check out his earlier work which also happened to be a superhero movie, although it counted with a much lower budget. Super is a gritty film that suffers from being over the top and extremely violent at times. The major weakness of this film is that it never quite manages to balance the comedic moments with the drama. The entire film felt cheap and cheesy and I just never fell for this dark comedy. This proves once again that what Quentin Tarantino does isn't easy at all, and films like this end up feeling like they glorify violence too much. I was actually more of a fan of Kick Ass which actually managed to balance these themes, but in Super the violence never works. From the opening cheesy credits this film just felt completely out of place and the only thing that redeems Super are the strong performances from Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. I'm a huge Page fan, and she was hilarious in this film, but it wasn't enough for me to enjoy the dark humor. The shaky camera didn't work for me either as it has in the past with other films like Cloverfield or The Bourne Supremacy. I was disappointed with this film considering I had heard great things about it.
The films centers on a cook named Frank (Rainn Wilson) who has felt like a loser most of his life until he found his true joy when he met and married Sarah (Liv Tyler). Sarah is a former junkie who fell for Frank right after being rehabilitated, but after a while she had a relapse and ended up leaving Frank for a drug dealer named Jacques (Kevin Bacon). Frank becomes depressed once again, but after having a vision he decides to become a superhero to fight evil in the streets and try to rescue Sarah from the evil men that have seduced her. Frank becomes a street vigilante who wears a red mask and uses a pipe wrench as a weapon calling himself the Crimson Bolt. A clerk from a comic book store who he befriends becomes his sidekick. She calls herself Boltie (Ellen Page) and due to her eccentric personality and her thirst for blood she is excited to team up with The Crimson Bolt. Together they decide to fight crime and bring justice back to the streets.
Super suffers from having a split personality and not really knowing what tone it should have. At times it feels cartoonish and extremely violent, while at other moments it begins to take itself seriously and is more dramatic. This is a film that suffers from what I like to call a bipolar disorder. Despite some great performances the story never is executed correctly and at the end I felt completely disappointed with this film. It is funny at times, but then you realize it is actually a one joke movie as it beats you over the head with the same joke over and over again only shifting in tones dramatically at random moments. Nathan Fillion does have a funny small role here as the Holy Avenger who inspires Frank to become The Crimson Bolt, but it wasn't enough to save this movie. I really didn't like the tone of the film and felt uncomfortable watching this.